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Dates of existence
The operations function of the World Bank has, in one form or another, been organized according to geographic region throughout the Bank's history. While the units responsible for World Bank lending and technical assistance have changed frequently in name and status since the Bank began operations in 1946, the East Asia and Pacific Region has been remained relatively constant. The exception has been the Region's periodic combination with South Asian countries to form a single Asia Region. Generally speaking, the East Asia and Pacific Region has consisted of countries east and south of China and Myanmar, inclusive. (Note that Myanmar was located in the South Asian Region until 1987).
1946 - 1952
Upon the Bank's opening in 1946, operational lending was executed out of the Loan Department (LOD). The LOD was responsible for developing loan operation policy, receiving and investigating loan inquiries, presenting loan inquiries to Bank management for consideration, and negotiating loans. The organizational structure of LOD fluctuated over its seven year history but was, for the majority of the time, organized geographically. The Bank's focus in these early years was on post-World War II reconstruction - particularly in Europe - and this is reflected by the initial divisional organization of the LOD. Of the seven original divisions, four dealt with Europe and two with the Western Hemisphere. One division was responsible for the two continents of Asia and Africa: the Asiatic-African Division.
In 1948, the seven divisions were briefly consolidated into two (the European and United Kingdom Division and the Latin American, Asiatic and African Division). Then, in November of 1948, divisions were abolished altogether, as loans were assigned to loan officers on an ad hoc basis. In 1950, LOD was again divided into three geographical areas, of which the Asia and the Middle East Division was one.
Parallel to the LOD was the Economic Department (ECD) which conducted sector analysis and research work. Between 1946 and 1952, the ECD was responsible for both functional and geographic analyses, i.e. general economic studies and country specific studies. Its workECD supported the LOD and its loan administration and advised member countries on their economic and sector development plans. The ECD also liaised with international organizations on economic research and provided staff for Bank missions. Like the LOD, the organization of the ECD reflected the Bank's focus on post-war Europe. The Department initially consisted of three area divisions (East Asia and Pacific being located in its "Development Areas Division") and an Economic Technology Division responsible for specialized sector studies. In August 1948 a new organizational structure featuring two area divisions was installed. Area Division I was responsible for Europe and Area Division II was divided into four sections of which Asia was one. In March 1950 another reorganization divided the Department into an advisory staff and an area staff, the latter consisting of three divisions of which Asia was one.
While much of the Bank's initial attention was focused on post-war countries in Western Europe and the developing nations of South America, the Bank did begin looking toward East Asia almost as soon as it began operations. Bank representatives visited the Philippines in 1947 and then the Philippines, again , as well as Thailand in 1949 again in 1949 when the mission was paired with a visit to Thailand . The first funding to the region was Loan 0029 to Australia in 1950 (Agriculture, Industry, Transport, and Mining - P037342). Thailand's first loan (Irrigation project - P004650) followed in 1950. The Bank's first mission to Japan took place in October of 1952 and its first loan to the country (Kansai Power Project - P037421) was provided the following year.
1952 - 1972
A sizable reorganization that took effect in September of 1952 created an operational structure that would endure for the next twenty years. LOD staff were combined with the country-related staff from the ECD to form three distinct geographical Area Departments: Western Hemisphere (WHM); Europe, Africa and Australasia (EAA); and Asia and Middle East (AME). AME contained four divisions, with the Far East countries making up Division IV. These units were primarily responsible for World Bank-member country relations. Functions included: loan policy and plan development; country development program appraisal and review; preparation of proposed loans; and country economic monitoring.
AME had two Department Directors between 1952 and 1957: Joseph Rucinski (22 September 1952 - 10 February 1953 and 11 May 1955 - 1 April 1957); and Francois Didier-Griegh (10 February 1953 - 11 May 1955).
As part of the 1952 reorganization, the sector-oriented staff of the former ECD formed the Technical Operations Department (TOD) in the new Area Departments and was placed in charge of project appraisal and supervision. Specifically, the TOD was responsible for: the appraisal of proposed projects; advising Area Departments on proposed projects and assisting in negotiations; supervising approved projects and assisting borrowers in procurement efforts; and monitoring and reporting on member countries' sector economies.
In 1957 a reorganization of AME created an autonomous East Asia unit for the first time. Growing membership and operational responsibility in the Middle East and Asia was the main reason for the division of AME into two new and separate departments: the Department of Operations - South Asia and Middle East (SME) and the Department of Operations - Far East (FEA). Note that during this period Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma were located in FEA. Martin M. Rosen was named FEA Department Director in 1957 and was succeeded by I. P. M. Cargill in 1961.
In 1966, following a small departmental name change the previous year (from the Department of Operations - Far East to the Far East Department), the FEA was merged with the South Asia Department (SAS) to form a single Asian operational unit: Asia Department (ASI). There was no change in functions or reporting responsibilities. FEA's former Director, I. P. M. Cargill, was named ASI Department Director.
This reorganization of the regional operations units did not last long. In October 1968, due to the increased volume of lending operations anticipated over the next several years, the World Bank executed a major reorganization of its regional departments. One of the results was that ASI was again divided into two separate departments: South Asia Department (SAS) and East Asia and Pacific Department (EAP). Raymond J. Goodman was named Director of EAP while Cargill moved to SAS as Director.
1972 - 1987
While projects funded by the World Bank in the East Asia and Pacific Region from the Bank's inception through the 1960s focused primarily on infrastructure projects like transportation and energy, in the 1970s a shift towards agriculture, rural development and the social sectors occurred. This shift mirrored a more general trend in the Bank and, generally, in development dialogue at the time.
As part of a massive 1972 reorganization, the geographical organization of the Regional units was again altered. The seven departments that made up the Area Departments were elevated to five Regional Vice Presidencies (RVP). As a result, SAS and EAP were again combined to form a single Regional Vice Presidency: the Asia Vice Presidency (ASN). The RVPs reported to the new Senior Vice President, Operations (SVPOP).
A more significant aspect of the 1972 reorganization, however, was the integration of the former Projects Division with the new RVPs. The period between 1952 and 1972 had been characterized by frequent reorganizations of the geographically-based area units responsible for country liaison and loan policy and negotiation. However, the division of responsibility between these units and the TOD (renamed the Projects Division [PRJ] in 1965) was maintained. But in 1972, in an attempt to more effectively fuse country knowledge and sectoral skills, the reorganization removed most of the Bank's operational project work from the Projects Departments to the five new Regional Vice Presidencies. Each Region's Projects Department staff was organized into sector-oriented departments and were known as Central Projects Staff. Thus, rather than one Projects Department that supported projects in countries on an ad hoc basis, each RVP would maintain its own projects staff. Each RVP was, in turn, given "line authority" to analyze, decide and act on country development operations. Each RVP was responsible for planning and executing IBRD/IDA development assistance programs subject to the overall framework of Bank policies, priorities and operating procedures. The RVPs created regional plans and budgets, ensured the effective implementation of approved plans, created country economic and sector reports, and developed and implemented loan, credit, technical assistance, and other forms of development projects. The RVPs were also responsible for maintaining sound relations with governments of assigned countries and with aid organizations and donors involved in those countries.
Upon the completion of the 1972 reorganization, ASN was divided into two Country Program Departments in addition to the new Projects Department. The countries overseen by the former EAP constituted Country Program Department 1. The Country Program Departments were staffed by country economists and loan officers whose primary responsibilities were: conducting area reviews of Bank activities and countries' economic and political developments; formulating country lending and economic and sector work programs and implementing country programs; and reviewing loan applications, negotiating loans, and administering loans.
The Projects Department provided technical assistance and advice to members and borrowers on sectoral issues, priorities, and project development from identification through operation. The Projects Department, consisting of economists, financial analysts, and sector specialists, was specifically responsible for: creating sector policies; assisting countries with the identification and preparation of projects; appraising potential projects and assisting the Country Program Departments in loan negotiation and credit agreements; and helping borrowers manage consultants and procurement. ASN's Project Department was initially divided into five sector-based units: Agriculture; Development Finance Companies; Education; Public Utilities; and Transportation.
Note that not all operational responsibility was transferred from the former PRJ to the RVPs. Staff in sectors too small to decentralize to the various regions continued to provide a complete "operational package" of technical services to the regions. These units, such as Population and Nutrition and Urban Projects, were known as Central Operating Projects Departments and were located in the newly formed Vice President, Central Projects (CPSVP) which, like the RVPs, reported to the SVPOP. In addition, those former PRJ units which had their operational functions dispersed to the RVPs still maintained a core staff in the CPSVP with responsibility for policy and advisory work only.
I. P. M. Cargill served as the Regional Vice President of ASN from 1 October 1972 to 30 June 1974. In 1974, the Asia Vice Presidency was again divided into separate Vice Presidencies: the South Asia Vice Presidency (ASN) and the East Asia and Pacific Vice Presidency (AEN). Bernard Bell was named Regional Vice President of AEN; he was succeed by S. Shahid Husain in 1977 and Attila Karaosmanoglu in 1983.
1987 - 1997
While the make-up of the Country Program Departments and Projects Department changed between 1972 and 1987 (most notably with a considerable increase in the number of Projects Department sector divisions), the organization and functions of the RVPs was consistent until 1987. In July of 1987, however, a Bank-wide reorganization under President Barber Conable altered the structures of the RVPs considerably. The changes were brought on by a desire to strengthen the Bank's country focus by making the Country Department the basic program and budget unit.
The new Country Departments that replaced the Country Program Departments combined the macro-economic work of the former Country Program Departments and the sector work of the former Regional Projects Department. Each Country Department would consist of a Country Operations Division (COD) as well as multiple Sectoral Operations Divisions (SOD) made up of staff from the former Regional Projects Departments. The COD was composed of lead, country and specialized economists as well as Country Officers and was responsible for: liaising with state governments and developing knowledge of issues in the country; preparing and supervising the country's aid strategy; and providing full responsibility for certain country-wide operations such as Structural Adjustment Loans and country economic work. SODs were responsible for overall sectoral strategy and for planning, programming and implementing development activities for the countries in their respective sectoral specialties; this would include the provision of full lending project management as well as lending and sector evaluation work.
Not all staff was moved from each Region's Project Department into the Country Departments' SODs. Those remaining formed a new Regional Technical Department within each RVP. It was responsible for higher level knowledge collection, assessment, and dissemination. The Technical Department, which was organized into sector-focused divisions, was to stimulate innovation in operational work and undertake strategic thinking by providing advice, operational support, regional studies, staff training and the dissemination of materials to Bank staff, donors, and other institutions outside the Bank. The Department would continue to offer operational help in the form of task management, task support, and advice. They would also work closely with Policy, Planning and Research (PPR) staff in conducting regional studies and reviews and advising on sector policy and research priorities.
A subsequent reorganization in 1993 strengthened the Country Departments' SODs through unit reorganization and a transfer of staff from the Regional Technical Departments to the SODs. The Technical Departments were greatly reduced in size and were restructured to reflect the emphasis on sectoral and thematic responsibilities of the SODs. The Technical Departments operational support function was consequently reduced.
During the 1987 reorganization the number of RVPs was decreased from six to four. This involved the merger of ASN and AEN in the formation of a single Asia Regional Office (ASI). Attila Karaosmanoglu was named Regional Vice President of ASI. ASI initially contained five Country Departments and a single Technical Department.
This internal organization was maintained through 1991 when the four regional Vice Presidencies were again expanded to six and ASI was divided into two separate Vice Presidencies: East Asia and Pacific Vice Presidency (EAP) and South Asia Vice Presidency (SAS). However, the two new reformed Vice Presidencies continued to share a single Technical Department (AST) until 1997. Gautam S. Kaji was named EAP Vice President. He was succeeded by Russell J. Cheetham in December of 1994.
Note that when ASI was arranged into five Country Departments between 1987 and 1991, Country Department 1 contained those countries that had typically been located in the various incarnations of the South Asia Region. The lone exception was Myanmar, which was placed in Country Department 2 with other EAP countries. Subsequently, when ASI was divided into SAS and EAP in 1991, Myanmar was officially removed from SAS and has since been located in EAP ever since.
1997 - 2014
A 1996-1997 reorganization modified the changes made in 1987 and 1993. The RVP continued to be responsible for all aspects of country development assistance for its member countries, including: country assistance strategy; lending operations; technical assistance operations; and economic and sector work. However, the primary objective of the reorganization was to deepen the country focus and responsiveness to client needs. This was accomplished in a number of ways. The most striking changes concerned the new Country Management Units (CMUs) which replaced the former Country Departments. The CMUs were smaller than their predecessor (that is, each was responsible for a smaller number of countries) while their number correspondingly increased. In the East Asia and Pacific Region, the number of CMUs rose from two in 1996 to eight in 1998.
In addition, there was an increasing decentralization of CMU staff and country directors from Bank headquarters in Washington to locations within client countries. At the same time, an increase in authority with regard to strategy and budget was given to the country directors. The CMUs continued to be responsible for overall preparation and supervision of the country's assistance strategy, full lending project management, and evaluation of lending and sector work.
During the reorganization, the former Technical Departments were changed into Sector or Technical Families. The role of the Technical Families, which consisted of sector and project economists and selected specialist staff, was to formulate knowledge on technical subjects and best practice and to suggest innovation through research and development. A Technical Families group was placed alongside a number of CMUs within each Regional Vice Presidency.
Jean-Michel Severino was named Regional Vice President of EAP in 1997. Jean-ud-din Kassum replaced Severino in 2000. Kassum was briefly replaced by Jeffrey Gutman, who served as acting Vice President between December 2005 and September 2006. He was succeeded by James W. Adams, who served in the position until January 2012. Pamela Cox briefly served in the position until being replaced by Axel van Trotsenburg in February 2013.